Sexual Harassment - Student Policy

  • STUDENT SEXUAL HARASSMENT - Title IX
    (Prohibited by Law and by Visalia Unified School District’s Board Policy 5145.7)

    The Board of Education will not tolerate sexual harassment and will make efforts to maintain schools free from sexual harassment.  It is the Board of Education's intent to maintain an academic and work environment that protects the dignity and promotes the mutual respect of all employees and pupils.

    The Governing Board is committed to maintaining a safe school environment that is free from harassment and discrimination. The Board prohibits, at school or at school-sponsored or school-related activities, sexual harassment targeted at any student by anyone. The Board also prohibits retaliatory behavior or action against any person who reports, files a complaint or testifies about, or otherwise supports a complainant in alleging sexual harassment.

     

    BOARD POLICY 5145.7 STUDENT SEXUAL HARASSMENT

    1. Prohibits sexual harassment of any student by any employee, student, or other person in, or from the District.
    2. Expects students or staff to immediately report incidents of sexual harassment to a site administrator or to another District administrator.
    3. Each site administrator has the responsibility of maintaining an educational and work environment free of sexual harassment.
    4. Each sexual harassment complaint shall be promptly investigated in a way designed to respect the privacy of all parties concerned.  This responsibility includes discussing this policy with his/her students and employees and assuring them that they NEED NOT endure sexually insulting, degrading, or exploitative treatment or any other form of sexual harassment.

     

    WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT?
    "Sexual harassment" means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, visual or physical conduct of a sexual nature, made by someone from, or in, the work or educational setting under any of the following conditions:

    1. When submission to the conduct is explicitly or implicitly made a term or condition of an individual's employment, academic status, or progress.
    2. When submission to, or rejection of, the conduct by the individual is used as the basis of academic decisions affecting the individual.
    3. When the conduct has the purpose or effect of having a negative impact upon the individual's work or academic performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment.
    4. When submission to, or rejection of, the conduct by the individual is used as the basis for any decision affecting the individual regarding benefits and services, honors, programs or activities available at, or through, the educational institution.

     

    EXAMPLES OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT
    Sexual harassment may occur as a pattern of degrading sexual speech or action ranging from verbal or physical annoyances or distractions to deliberate intimidations and frank threats or sexual demands.  Such conduct may constitute sexual harassment.

    Forms of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to the following:

    1. Verbal Harassment - Derogatory comments, jokes, or slurs; graphic verbal abuse of a sexual nature; comments about an individual's body/dress, sexual preferences or sexual conduct; sexually degrading words used to demean, label, or describe an individual; or, spreading sexual rumors.
    2. Physical Harassment - Unnecessary or offensive touching, or impeding or blocking movement.
    3. Visual Harassment - Derogatory or offensive posters, cards, cartoons, graffiti, drawings, or gestures; suggestive or obscene letters, notes or invitations; the display in the educational environment of sexually suggestive objects or pictures.
    4. Sexual Favors - Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual flirtations or propositions.


    RETALIATION

    The District prohibits retaliatory behavior against any complainant as a result of a negative response to sexual advances or the making of an informal or formal complaint alleging sexual harassment.


    DISCIPLINARY ACTION FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT

    Any student found to have engaged in sexual harassment or sexual violence in violation of this policy shall be subject to disciplinary action. For students in grades 4-12, disciplinary action may include suspension and/or expulsion, provided that, in imposing such discipline, the entire circumstances of the incident(s) shall be taken into account.

    REPORTING COMPLAINTS

    A student or parent/guardian who believes that the student has been subjected to sexual harassment by another student, an employee, or a third party or who has witnessed sexual harassment is strongly encouraged to report the incident to a teacher, the principal, the district's Title IX Coordinator, or any other available school employee. Within one school day of receiving such a report, the school employee shall forward the report to the principal or the district's Title IX Coordinator. In addition, any school employee who observes an incident of sexual harassment involving a student shall, within one school day, report his/her observation to the principal or Title IX Coordinator, regardless of whether the alleged victim files a formal complaint.

     

    Online Reporting System (Video Directions)

     

    COMPLAINT PROCEDURES

    All complaints of sexual harassment by and against students shall be investigated and resolved in accordance with law and district procedures.  The Title IX Coordinator shall review the allegations to determine the applicable procedure for responding to the complaint.  All complaints that meet the definition of sexual harassment under Title IX shall be investigated and resolved in accordance with AR 5145.71 - Title IX Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedures.  Other sexual harassment complaints shall be investigated and resolved pursuant to AR 1312.3 - Uniform Complaint Procedures


    TITLE IX COORDINATOR FOR STUDENT-TO-STUDENT SEXUAL HARASSMENT

    The Administrator of Equity and Student Services is the Title IX Coordinator for student-to-student sexual harassment and is designated by the District to receive and process complaints under this procedure, in addition, the Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services will coordinate efforts to comply with Title IX educational amendment of 1982 as well as to investigate and resolve sexual harassment complaints under AR 1312.3 - Uniform Complaint Procedures.


    TITLE IX COORDINATOR FOR STUDENT SEXUAL HARASSMENT COMPLAINTS INVOLVING EMPLOYEES OF THE DISTRICT

    The  Administrator of Equity and Student Services is the Title IX Coordinator for any student sexual harassment complaints involving employees of the District, in addition, the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources will coordinate efforts to comply with Title IX educational amendment of 1982 as well as to investigate and resolve sexual harassment complaints under AR 1312.3 - Uniform Complaint Procedures. 

     

    NON-DISCRIMINATION
    (42 U.S.C. Sections 2000 et seq., 6707) (20 U.S.C. Sections 1681 et. seq.)

    The Visalia Unified School District has a policy that all programs and activities shall be free from discrimination or harassment with respect to ethnic group, religion, gender, color, race, national origin and physical or mental ability, including eligibility under Section 504 of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

    Any individual who believes that his or her rights are being violated or that he or she is being discriminated against should immediately contact the principal or designee.  If the situation is not promptly remedied at the site level, a complaint can be filed in accordance with administrative regulations by contacting the Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services at 5000 W. Cypress Ave., Visalia, CA. 93277 or (559) 730-7300.

     

  • Notice of Student Rights under Title IX

    (34 C.F.R. § 106.8, subd. (b); Cal. Ed. Code § 221.61.)

    Federal Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”), implemented at 34 C.F.R. § 106.31, subd. (a), provides that no person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any academic, extracurricular, research, occupational training, or other education program or activity operated by a recipient which receives federal financial assistance.

    Relevant here, Title IX requires that school districts take immediate and appropriate action to address any potential Title IX violations that are brought to its attention.  Any inquiries about the application of Title IX, this notice, and who is protected by Title IX may be referred to Administrator of Equity and Student Services, to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights from the United States Department of Education, or both.

    Title IX Coordinator

    The Administrator of Equity and Student Services is the Title IX Coordinator for the Visalia Unified School District and can be reached by telephone at 559-730-7300, by e-mail at studentservices@vusd.org, by mail or in person 5000 W Cypress Ave, Visalia CA 93277.

    Sexual Harassment Under Title IX

    Sexual harassment under Title IX means conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following:

    1. An employee of the school district conditioning the provision of an aid, benefit or service of the school district on an individual’s participating in unwelcome sexual conduct (quid pro quo);
    2. Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the recipient’s education program or activity; or
    3. “Sexual assault” as defined in 20 U.S.C. 1092(f)(6)(A)(v), “dating violence” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(10), “domestic violence” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(8), or “stalking” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(30).

    Alleged conduct that does not rise to the level of sexual harassment under Title IX will be addressed in accordance with other District policies that prohibit sexual harassment and/or sex-based discrimination, or other forms of inappropriate conduct, as is deemed appropriate.

    Filing a Title IX Complaint with the District

    Any person may report sex discrimination, including sexual harassment (whether or not the person reporting is also the alleged victim), in person, by mail, by telephone or by e-mail, using the contact information listed for the District’s Title IX Coordinator, or by any other means that results in the Title IX Coordinator receiving the person’s verbal or written report.  Such reports may be made at any time, including during non-business hours, by using the telephone number or e-mail address, or by mail to the office address, listed for the Title IX Coordinator. 

    Student complaints alleging a Title IX violation should be submitted in written form no later than six months from the date of the alleged incident, or six months from the date the complainant first obtained knowledge of the facts of the alleged incident.  If the complainant is unable to prepare the complaint in writing, administrative staff shall help the complainant to do so.  The time for filing may be extended up to 90 days by the Superintendent or the Superintendent’s designee, for good cause, upon written request by the complainant setting forth the reasons for the request for an extension of time to file a written complaint.  To qualify as a Title IX complaint, the complainant/victim must also be participating in or attempting to participate in the District’s education program or activity.  The length of time elapsed between an incident of alleged sexual harassment, and the filing of a formal complaint may, in specific circumstances, prevent the District from collecting enough evidence to reach a determination, justifying a discretionary dismissal under Title IX.

    The District will process all formal complaints in accordance with Title IX and District Board Policy (“BP”) and Administrative Regulation (“AR”), BP/AR 5145.7 – Sexual Harassment, AR 5145.71 - Title IX Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedures, and other applicable policies, which include the option of informal resolution for certain matters.  Under Title IX, a formal complaint means a document filed by a victim, or signed by the Title IX Coordinator, that alleges sexual harassment against a respondent and requests that the school district investigate the allegation of sexual harassment.  Complaints that do not rise to the level of a Title IX complaint will be processed in accordance with BP/AR 1312.3 – Uniform Complaint Procedures, or in a manner that is otherwise deemed appropriate. 

    All investigations will be conducted as confidentially as possible.  Upon receipt of any formal complaint, the District will provide all known parties with adequate notice of the District’s complaint process and the underlying allegations.  During the course of the investigation, the District will provide the complainant and respondent (or “the parties”) with an equal opportunity present witnesses and evidence. The District will not restrict the ability of the parties to discuss the allegations under investigation, and it will allow parties to utilize an advisor of their choice.  Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, the complainant and respondent will have the opportunity to inspect and respond to evidence directly related to the allegations in the complaint that was gathered during the course of the investigation.  Thereafter, and prior to any final decision being made, the parties will receive a copy of the investigation report that fairly summarizes relevant evidence, and they will have an opportunity to submit written, relevant questions to be asked of the other party.  Next, a determination regarding responsibility will be made and issued to both parties.  Under Title IX and District policy, the responding party is presumed not responsible for the alleged conduct until a determination regarding responsibility is made at the end of the complaint process.  Any party not satisfied with the final determination will have the option to appeal the final determination.

    Additionally, any complainant who is dissatisfied with the District’s determination may file an appeal in writing with the California Department of Education within 30 calendar days of receiving the District’s final written decision.  Complaints made by or on behalf of students may also be filed with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights within 180 calendar days of the date of the alleged discrimination, unless the time for filing is extended by the Office of Civil Rights for good cause shown under certain circumstances.

    Student Rights Pursuant to Education Code Section 221.8

    In addition to federal law, the California Education Code similarly prohibits schools from discriminating against its students on the basis of sex.  Education Code section 221.8 provides as follows:

    The following list of rights, which are based on the relevant provisions of the federal regulations implementing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.), may be used by the department for purposes of Section 221.6:

    1. You have the right to fair and equitable treatment and you shall not be discriminated against based on your sex.
    2. You have the right to be provided with an equitable opportunity to participate in all academic extracurricular activities, including athletics.
    3. You have the right to inquire of the athletic director of your school as to the athletic opportunities offered by the school.
    4. You have the right to apply for athletic scholarships.
    5. You have the right to receive equitable treatment and benefits in the provision of all the following:
      1. Equipment and supplies.
      2. Scheduling of games and practices.
      3. Transportation and daily allowances.
      4. Access to tutoring.
      5. Coaching.
      6. Locker rooms.
      7. Practice and competitive facilities.
      8. Medical and training facilities and services.
      9. Publicity.
    6. You have the right to have access to a gender equity coordinator to answer questions regarding gender equity laws.
    7. You have the right to contact the State Department of Education and the California Interscholastic Federation to access information on gender equity laws.
    8. You have the right to file a confidential discrimination complaint with the United States Office for Civil Rights or the state Department of Education if you believe you have been discriminated against or if you believe you have received unequal treatment on the basis of your sex.
    9. You have the right to pursue civil remedies if you have been discriminated against.
    10. You have the right to be protected against retaliation if you file a discrimination complaint.

     

    Information and Resources

    The Superintendent or designee shall post on the district's website, in a prominent location and in a manner that is easily accessible to students and parents/guardians, information on bullying and harassment prevention which includes the following: (Education Code 234.6)

    1. The district's policy on student suicide prevention, including a reference to the policy's age appropriateness for students in grades K-6  
      • cf.5141.52 - Suicide Prevention
    2. The definition of sex discrimination and harassment as described in Education Code 230, including the rights set forth in Education Code 221.8
    3. Title IX information included on the district's website pursuant to Education Code 221.31, and a link to the Title IX information included on CDE's website pursuant to Education Code 221.6
    4. District policies on student sexual harassment, prevention and response to hate violence, discrimination, harassment, intimidation, bullying, and cyberbullying
      • cf. 5145.3 - Nondiscrimination/Harassment
      • cf. 5145.7 - Sexual Harassment
      • cf. 5145.9 - Hate Motivated Behavior
    5. A section on social media bullying that includes all of the references described in Education Code 234.6 as possible forums for social media.
    6. A link to statewide resources, including community-based organizations, complied by CDE pursuant to Education Code 234.5
    7. Any additional information the Superintendent or designee deems important for preventing bullying and harassment.
      • cf. 113 - District and School Web Sites

    Additional Resources